Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst's Fantasy Outlook vs. Chiefs with Julio Jones Out

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2020

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs a play during an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 40-39. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

The Atlanta Falcons' passing attack could receive another shake-up after No. 1 wide receiver Julio Jones was ruled out of Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a hamstring injury. 

It's the third straight missed game for Jones, who has been dealing with the injury since early in the season.

Let's analyze how the other notable members of the Falcons pass-catching group may be impacted from a fantasy football perspective if Jones spends some time out of the lineup.


Calvin Ridley

Ridley has been a major fantasy contributor even when Jones has been available, but an extended absence for the seven-time Pro Bowl selection could turn the 26-year-old University of Alabama product into one of the position's top scorers.

The Falcons' Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears was a good example of what he can do while operating as the top target. He amassed 13 targets, seven more than anybody else on the team, and caught five of them for 110 yards.

His big-play ability combined with Atlanta's poor defense makes for perfect fantasy conditions. He was already a must-start player in almost every league and situation, but fantasy managers can now feel even more confident that he can put up numbers on a weekly basis.


Russell Gage

Gage opened the 2020 campaign with nine catches for 114 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, a breakout performance that made him a popular waiver-wire target. He hasn't maintained that level, but his stock could now rise again.

His overall fantasy upside is capped by his size (6'0'', 184 pounds), which will keep him lower in the pecking order in the red zone, but he should still receive enough looks to maintain relevance. That's especially true in PPR leagues for the duration of Jones' absence.

Consider him a flex option in the short term, starting him against weaker secondaries, but he could ultimately play his way toward No. 2 value.


Hayden Hurst

Hurst hasn't been a massive fantasy contributor throughout the campaign, which isn't a major surprise given the amount of other pass-catching talent on the Atlanta roster, but his red-zone presence makes him a player to watch with a possible uptick in targets.

He's never been asked to handle too large of a role across his first three seasons, the first two of which he spent with the Baltimore Ravens. This could represent his chance to post some breakout performances.

That's particularly noteworthy for a tight end given the relative weakness of the position in fantasy. He could prove himself as a weekly starter if Jones is out for a while.


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